Car crashes are second leading cause of traumatic brain injury

Car crashes are second leading cause of traumatic brain injury

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After her car crash, Rachel Ruppe was in a month-long coma. She then had to re-learn how to walk and talk. After her car crash, Rachel Ruppe was in a month-long coma. She then had to re-learn how to walk and talk.
"I went from being able to do whatever, whenever, to doing nothing," said Rachel Ruppe. "I went from being able to do whatever, whenever, to doing nothing," said Rachel Ruppe.
"When you're working in rehab, with people,  truly you can say that miracles are happening. The difference is they don't just happen in a day, they happen over time," said Patsy Cannon. "When you're working in rehab, with people, truly you can say that miracles are happening. The difference is they don't just happen in a day, they happen over time," said Patsy Cannon.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - You hear about athletes suffering traumatic brain injuries after years of hard knocks on the football field causing concussions, but you may not know that a significant number of these injuries happen at home or in your car.

Rachel Ruppe was an honors student at Middle Tennessee State University in 2011 with one semester to go before graduating with a degree in English.

A car crash in November of that same year changed everything.

Rachel didn't have a mark on her after the single car accident, but she did suffer traumatic brain injury so severe that doctors compared it  to Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Rachel, the smart, fun-loving sorority girl always surrounded by friends, was silenced by a month-long coma.

That was followed by intense therapy at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center where she re-learned how to walk and talk.

"I went from being able to do whatever, whenever, to doing nothing," said Rachel.

"She required assistance in moving both legs, holding her trunk up. It was hard for her to hold her head up, and to concentrate on everything," said physical therapist Patsy Cannon. "She is getting on with her life. She's not waiting till she's perfect."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, among all age groups, car crashes are second only to falls as the leading cause of traumatic brain injury.

However, crashes result in nearly the largest percentage of traumatic brain injury related deaths.

Rachel has come a long way, completing regular outpatient physical therapy at the rehab center. She now only comes back from time to time to check her progress.

She is doing well enough that her mother was able to go back to work part-time. Rachel has also completed her first online class since her accident. She determined to get here degree, no matter how long it may take.

"When you're working in rehab, with people,  truly you can say that miracles are happening. The difference is they don't just happen in a day, they happen over time," said Cannon.

"I'm very blessed. I could be much, much worse," Rachel said.

Rachel's dad says his daughter, who was her high school's valedictorian, is a born leader, and that attribute has helped her in her recovery.

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